City Killer (1984)
"City Killer" sounds utterly far fetched, a psychotic ex takes to blowing up buildings with people still inside to force his former girlfriend to take him back, surely there are easier ways to blackmail an ex. Yet despite the outrageous idea "City Killer" actually works and what is more surprising is that for a movie which is a stereotypical product of the 80s it is still entertaining. Director Robert Michael Lewis has created an atmospheric little thriller which is well paced and surprisingly exciting.
It's been 2 years and life had been going well for Andrea McKnight (Heather Locklear - Angels Fall) but then it started; the silent phone calls at home and at work and then Leo (Terence Knox), her psychotic ex boyfriend breaks into her apartment to wait for her. Having spent the last few years trying to get away from him Andrea makes it clear that she is not interested but then he steps things up and starts to use his expertise for blowing things up which he learned in the army to put pressure on her by blowing up an office with people in. Knowing that Leo was behind the explosion Andrea calls the police who put her under 24 hour surveillance with Lieutenant 'Eck' Eckford (Gerald McRaney - The A-Team) detailed as protection leading to feelings between Andrea and the charming widowed cop.
So there is no denying that "City Killer" has an outrageous premise but before that is revealed director Robert Michael Lewis does a decent job of building up atmosphere using a couple of silent calls then the scene where Andrea comes face to face with Leo in her apartment after she had got changed for bed. Even the next couple of scenes as we are informed of Leo's psychotic past and what he has put Andrea through forcing her to move from city to city to get away from him sets up his utter obsession. But we do have the outrageous idea that Leo takes to blowing up buildings with people in as a way of making Heather return to him.
Yet this is where "City Killer" actually gets good because we see Leo targeting the building where she works and suddenly "City Killer" becomes a sort of disaster movie hybrid as we have her friends in the building. It is still outrageous and at times utterly daft but it had oodles of atmosphere which makes it exciting. It also has some romance with the unsurprising relationships which forms between Andrea and Eck as he stays with her.
It is down to Robert Michael Lewis why "City Killer" ends up so good and it is the focus on the detail from watching Leo planting the explosives in the building to the look of Leo's place where he has constructed a sort of tape pyramid over his bed. Lewis also uses stock footage of buildings being demolished surprisingly effectively as whilst you never think for one moment they have blown up buildings for the movie watching the buildings falls in on themselves and then clouds of dust engulfing the streets is an impressive sight even a bit corny when we watch an ambulance speed away just as one explosion goes off.
As for the acting well both Heather Locklear and Gerald McRaney play quite standard characters, easy to watch, easy to like but not having anything especially special about them. But then there is Terence Knox as Leo and Knox is fantastic, ominous, obsessed and most certainly living in his own world where blowing people up is an okay thing to do.
What this all boils down to is that whilst "City Killer" is not only a product of its era but also one with an outrageous storyline it is still an entertaining thriller with great atmosphere and some clever use of stock footage of buildings being demolished. If it wasn't such an outrageous storyline I would be rating this a lot higher.
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